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A Seminal Writer On The Black Experience Is Taking On Marvel’s Seminal Black Superhero

If your kid has a problem getting busted for reading comic books when they should be paying attention in class, here’s some good news: They’re about to get a comic book that even their teacher will have to pay attention to. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the acclaimed writer of the National Book Award-nominated Between The World And Me has signed on with Marvel Comics to write a story arc for its African superhero, the Black Panther.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates’ book is a searing treatise on life as a black American, framed as a letter to his son, and his work as a national correspondent for The Atlantic has defined much of the conversation around race in this country for the past few years (he’s the guy who argued, convincingly, that the government should pay reparations to black Americans for slavery). But, when he’s not exploding commonly held myths about the black experience, Coates is also that venerable journal’s lead (only?) comic book nerd.

Ta-Nehisi Coates The Black Panther

Jumping from award-worthy nonfiction to a comic book starring the king of the fictional nation of Wakanda — who until very recently played only the minor-est of roles in Marvel’s massive universe — might seem like an odd choice, but to Coates, it makes perfect sense. The 39-year-old writer claims Marvel’s mythology was a huge influence during his formative years. “It was mostly through pop culture, through hip-hop, through Dungeons & Dragons and comic books that I acquired much of my vocabulary,” he said.

Exactly, kids. Stop doing your homework. That D&D session isn’t going to finish itself.